A couple of weeks ago, I had the chance to find out just how true the tag line for Ted’s actually is. I had pulled in and parked in the lot of the Athens Post Office, and was texting a client whose son had tragically and suddenly died. I then did what most of us have done at some point in time: I hopped out of my truck and realized I had locked my keys in the car. Fortunately, I had my phone, and through the kindness of a stranger and fellow Post Office patron who came and told me how much she enjoys Athens Now, I found myself at Ted’s Lock and Key, located at 1214 N Jefferson Street in Athens. I explained my dilemma, was the recipient of their wonderful level of customer service, and can truly say they DO provide “fast, quality dependable service.” I get the privilege of telling the rest of the town the details!
After my “kind stranger” took me back to my car, it was only a few minutes before Josh, (the middle son) was there, and he clearly knew what he was doing. He was quick, polite, professional, friendly, and I went straight back to their shop to tell his Daddy so.
Ted’s Lock & Key is family owned and operated. The Lanksters have three generations of men involved in the business, and all of them treated me like a queen. Owner Ted Lankster is from Athens, and their family goes back many generations. He was a single dad, his wife Deborah was a single mom, and together they have a son. The Lanksters met at church, and in addition to running both the locksmith “side of the house,” as well as the used car lot, Ted also pastors a church. His son Trey is married, with a son, and handles most of the key making as well as the service calls. Her son Josh does some of the mobile service, and was the one who came to my rescue. At 17, Tevan is working part time and learning the trade. Most of the time Ted focuses on managing the auto sales, but at times he is out in the field, as well.
“We love North Alabama,” he said, “and we have a large ‘lock-out radius,’” which means they literally will go the extra mile to come and take care of folks like me. “We also keep our prices about twenty dollars less than what they charge in Huntsville,” he added. These days being a locksmith involves a lot more, due to changes in security systems and the use of transponders. Each year they take 16 CEUs worth of courses to stay current with the trends.
“We have a number of commercial accounts, too,” said Ted, “including Platinum Mortgage,” and they get a lot of opportunities to use their upgraded knowledge and skills with commercial accounts as well. We also understand the need to get it right the first time, especially from a security standpoint.”
Everyone who works at Ted’s Lock & Key is FBI fingerprinted. The company is also licensed, bonded and insured. Even though I now had my own customer service story, I still needed to ask the question, “Why should I come to you?” He answered with confidence, “We can meet any locksmith need.” He also has 25 years experience, and his sons and he have stayed current with the business. “We are centrally located, and can get to our customers quickly, even when we are on duty for the 24 hour/7 days a week emergency lockout service.” It takes a high level of commitment to the community to be a business owner whose job description includes being available day or night, and the Lanksters have certainly paid their dues.
Ted hopes that eventually the boys will take over the business, and that he will be able to pursue the ministry full time. But until then, Ted will be at the helm of Ted’s Lock & key, and hopefully won’t have to lose too much sleep because of “damsels in distress” like me!
Ted’s Lock & Key
1214 N. Jefferson St Athens, AL 35611
Office hours: Mon-Fri 8-5, on call 24/7
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner